A product of the conquest of an Arawakan population by Tupí-Guaraní migrants, Chiriguano society offers a clear instance of “indigenous hybridity” that has received inadequate scholarly attention. We suggest that the assimilation of the Chiriguano case to Tupí-Guaraní sociopolitical models demonstrates a process of “Guaranization” that has influenced scholars as much as—if not more than—the Chiriguano themselves. By means of an ethnohistorical analysis of the Chiriguano political system, we attempt to recover the Arawakan heritage of this truly mestizo society in which different cultural traditions are both counterposed and combined. The reading we offer of the “Chiriguano case” is a new one, oriented specifically to the ethnically diverse frontier territory of the South American Gran Chaco but having broad comparative value.

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